What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Posts Tagged ‘wine tasting’

Best Earth-Friendly Shopping and Souvenirs in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Happy Earth Day! When it comes to treating our planet nicely, small changes can make big differences—even when traveling. In addition to our eco-chic itinerary, we wanted to share a few sustainably-minded souvenirs from Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley.

Used Books

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing is the home hundreds of thousands of used—and often rare!—books. If you’re looking for a special, early-edition print of your favorite novel, then these are the shelves to scour. What’s more, this Powell’s Books location boasts an impressive collection of gardening and homesteading books so that you can work on your green thumb. For extra sustainability points, take the nearby MAX station at Beaverton Central instead of a car.

 

Literary greats often walk through the doors of the iconic Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing.

Find rare and special used books at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing.

 

Biodynamic Wines

Alaska Airlines has extended its Oregon Wines Fly Free promotion, meaning Mileage Plan members may check one case of wine (6 or 12 bottles) for free on their Alaska Airlines flights out of Oregon airports. You might as well make that case of wine full or biodynamic ones that you picked up while wine tasting along our Sustainable Wine Trail. Both Cooper Mountain Vineyards and Montinore Estate produce their wines with farming practices that respect and uphold the beautiful balance of vineyard soils and environments.

 

Rudy Marchese of Montinore Estate is passionate about sharing the beauty, wine, and food along the Sip 47 Route.

Rudy Marchese of Montinore Estate is passionate about sharing his biodynamic wine-making process.

 

Antiques

Shopping antique is a win-win as you score a one-of-a-kind piece without adding the same carbon footprint as buying new goods. What’s your favorite decade? Whether it’s Victorian or totally ’80s, you can shop by the decade at one of our many antique, vintage and carefully-curated second-hand shops. Downtown Hillsboro is freckled with sweet antique shops ready for the most die-hard and leisurely of shoppers.

 

Can you spot any Depression Glass from the Railroad Street Antique Mall's window?

Can you spot any Depression Glass from the Railroad Street Antique Mall’s window?

Want even more ways to travel with Mother Earth in mind? Find more eco-travel tips—you’ll find ways to support and enjoy nature just minutes away from downtown Portland!

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Wine Talk with Blizzard Wines’ Dana Blizzard – Part II

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find new favorite Oregon wines with the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker of Blizzard Wines, welcomes wine lovers to the North Willamette Wine Trail weekend.

Are you a seasonal wine drinker, gravitating toward different varietals based on the weather? In the spring, many Oregon wineries debut new releases, making it a prime time to take a wine getaway. With the North Willamette Vintners’ annual North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend, happening this weekend (April 11-12), you can go on an Oregon wine adventure with more than a dozen wineries for a just a cool $45 (or $40, using the “WineTrail15” promo code).

We caught up with Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker at one of the North Willamette Valley’s newest wineries, Blizzard Wines. First, read Part I of our chat with Dana. Then, find out her tips for the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend below.

What makes the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend so special?  
It’s special to see what makes each winery unique by visiting them in succession. They are all so different and have such great strengths: sweeping views, specialized wines and scrumptious food pairings.  

Any tips or suggestions for first time attendees to April’s wine trail?
Buy the 2-day weekend passes, get a designated driver and make an annual event of it. Remember—this is just the tip of the iceberg!  All seasons are great for wine tasting, especially in the North Valley since it’s such a short trip from Portland. Clear room in your cellar as you’re sure to find some new wines to love.

Dana has certainly convinced us to traverse the North Willamette Wine Trail! Here’s the skinny on tickets:

  • $45 per person includes the two-day Wine Trail weekend with activities, wine tastings, food pairings, and wine glass.
  • $30 per person for Sunday-only ticket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; ticket includes glass, activities, wine tastings, and light food pairings.
  • $10 for a designated driver ticket

 

 

A short drive from Portland, enter the gateway to Oregon's Wine Country with the North Willamette Wine Trail.

Blizzard Wines offers a family-friendly environment for the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Remember!—Use the code WineTrail15 (case sensitive) for a $5 discount on each ticket that you buy. Be sure to show us your time on the wine trail with the hashtag #nwwinetrail.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Wine Talk with Blizzard Wines’ Dana Blizzard – Part I

Posted on: April 3rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments

Are you a true wine lover, always on the hunt for exciting new blends to try? With the North Willamette Vintners’ annual North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend, happening April 11-12, you can sip, swirl and savor wines from over a dozen wineries for a cool $45 (or $40, using the “WineTrail15” promo code).

We caught up with Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker at one of the North Willamette Valley’s newest wineries, Blizzard Wines. She gave us the scoop on her family’s deep vineyard roots in the area.

 

 

Blizzard Wines of the Willamette Valley

Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines grew up around the vineyards of the North Willamette Valley.

 

Blizzard Wines is a relatively new wine label, but you and your family have deep roots in the wine country of the North Willamette Valley. How have you seen the wine industry here change over the years and what are you most excited about for the future?
My parents, Dave and Carol VanSchepen, purchased our family’s vineyard in Hillsboro in 1981 when I was 3 years old. Thirty years later, as a parent of my own toddlers, I came back home and started Blizzard Wines using that same vineyard and their 400 square foot garage. Now, my husband and I produce Pinot and Chardonnay from VanSchepen Vineyard and we are expanding, building a “proper” winery and tasting room scheduled to open next spring. Some things change and somethings stay the same—that’s what I love about North Willamette Valley wineries. It’s the same vineyards with new winemakers, new generations, new techniques.  

 

 

Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines tending to her vineyard.

Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines tending to her vineyard.

 

Blizzard Wines’ Wedding Blend keeps gaining accolades with wine lovers. Can you tell us a little more about it?
The Wedding Blend is a special wine for our whole family as it was made to serve at my brother’s wedding in 2013. It’s a traditional Bordeaux-style blend that’s been aged in select French oak—the joke was he was engaged for so long that we had time to let it age to perfection! Unexpectedly this spring, my brother is recovering from brain surgery and relearning to walk, use his left side and get back to daily life. He’s such a hard worker with an amazing attitude and his new wife is so dedicated to him. I’m proud my best wine honors such a loving relationship.

Check back on Monday for more from Dana as we discuss what makes the upcoming wine trail weekend so special.

p.s. Grab an overnight deal for the North Willamette Wine Trail from one of the participating hotels.

April’s North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend

Posted on: March 11th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Enjoy wine from the glass (and straight from the barrel!) during the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Enjoy wine from the glass (and straight from the barrel!) during the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Forget spring cleaning—let’s jump into spring drinking! While we love visiting wineries rain-or-shine, spring days give steam to our wine tasting game. With the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend April 11-12, the wineries of Oregon’s Washington County are daring us to a marathon wine weekend.  

From the North Willamette Vintners, the Wine Trail invites wine lovers to experience over a dozen wineries over two jam-packed days. What’s more, the Wine Trail weekend is actually about so much more than wine. It’s truly about our culinary community, from Oregon wine to cheese to other creative noshes. With this in mind, the Wine Trail pairs each winery with a thoughtful and unique food pairings.

One such pairing is the Apolloni Vineyards sharing some favorite Pinot Grigio, Rosé and Mélange Noir wines alongside tastes from Laurine Apolloni’s cooking demo with seasonal herbs. Additionally, Blizzard Wines defies its namesake by serving wood fired pizza from Maiale di Volo alongside its local wine blends.

Tickets can be purchased here, where you’ll be asked to identify your starting winery. A wine kit—including a glass, map, and brochure of each winery and its accompanying activity—will be waiting for you at that winery on April 11. Lunch options will also be available for purchase at many of the wineries.

Here’s the skinny on tickets:

  • $45 per person includes the two-day Wine Trail weekend with activities, wine tastings, food pairings, and wine glass.
  • $30 per person for Sunday-only ticket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; ticket includes glass, activities, wine tastings, and light food pairings.
  • $10 for a designated driver ticket

Turn the Wine Trail into a full-blown weekend getaway by booking a room at one of the awesome hotels partnering with the North Willamette Vintners:

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Valentine’s Day Itinerary

Posted on: February 4th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Just outside of Portland, plan a heart-shaped itinerary for Valentine's Day in the Tualatin Valley.

Just outside of Portland, plan a heart-shaped itinerary for Valentine’s Day in the Tualatin Valley.


Whoo—we have a big weekend coming up, don’t we? Over four short days, experience the first Friday the 13th of the year, Valentine’s Day, and a luxuriously long weekend with President’s Day. Seize this trifecta with the perfect Oregon getaway to Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley!

Friday, February 13th
Welcome! Now, first thing’s first. Check into your hotel room, which you (of course) got a great deal on by booking one of these romance hotel packages. Next, head to happy hour at Bootleggers Whiskey Bar. Prohibition-era drinks and the signature meatballs will shun away any bad Friday the 13th vibes.  

Saturday, February 14th
Start your Valentine’s Day with a sweat at the My Muddy Valentine 5k. Single? Stick around for the speed dating with other runners.

Add some sudsy love to your romantic day with the Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour. To make things super simple, the Orenco Taphouse (near the Orenco Max Station) is the starting location for a shuttle that will make a loop to five local brewery tours. Get the shuttle schedule here.

After your afternoon of beer, switch gears into a more theatrical state. Bag&Baggage theater production presents Cabaret Cupid’s review of romantic songs and dance at Venetian Theatre & Bistro, which conveniently also serves a chandelier lit dinner.

Sunday, February 15th
You’ll have time to cover all your boozy bases this weekend, especially with the Valentine’s Wine Loop. Make a day of vising five northern Willamette Valley wineries special wine tastings and pairings.

Next, the McMenamins Grand Lodge allows you to carry out a relaxing evening in one little hub. Get a couples massage at the Ruby Spa, take a dip in the soaking pool, grab a burger at the Ironwork Grill and watch a new movie in the old-world charm of the Compass Room Theater.

Monday, February 16th
Happy President’s Day! Celebrate the long weekend with a joy ride to the Cruise In Country Diner. The rockabilly décor is old school, but the chef’s take is new school with organic and sustainable produce. Have a slice of cherry pie in honor of George Washington!

Don’t forget to Instagram you whole weekend with us, entering the Winter Wonder Instagram Contest. Use the #mytualatinvalley hashtag to enter!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Sip, Savor, Sprint and Soar this Valentine’s Day

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

The countdown to Valentine’s Day has begun. Whether you and your honey opt for low-key or lavish celebrations, there are plenty of ways to spoil your love in the Tualatin Valley. No special someone? Our winery and brewery tours, mud runs and zip tours make for the perfect friends’ trip, too.

 

Just a short drive from Portland, have a romantic wine cave dinner for Valentine's Day at Apolloni Vineyards.

Just a short drive from Portland, have a romantic wine cave dinner for Valentine’s Day at Apolloni Vineyards.

Sip
Oregon’s Washington County is the perfect place for a wine-lover’s ideal getaway. The fourth annual Valentine’s Wine Loop (February 13-15) will have you gallivanting between five unique wineries, each of which will be pairing their amazing pours with special tastings and pairings. If you prefer to sip suds, then there’s the Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour, too (February 14-15).

Savor
Take some time out to appreciate your significant other, your time and—of course—delicious food. The triple-threat for savoring this Valentine’s Day can be found at the Cave by Candlelight Dinner at Apolloni Vineyards (February 14; 6:30 p.m.).

Sprint
Both love and exercise can get your heart rate up, pumping those endorphins and adrenaline through your body. This Valentine’s Day in the Tualatin Valley, take your pick from three fun runs:

Soar
If love makes you feel like you can fly, then you’ll love soaring across the treetops with Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour. From February 13 to February 16, if you bring a date then he or she will zip for free! That’s right—lovebirds receive 50% off of their tour.

Valentine’s Weekend 2015 is suddenly looking pretty good, isn’t it?

P.S. Take advantage of one of eight romance hotel packages during your stayavailable year-round!

Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Let’s make the most out of the last weeks of winter, shall we? We want you to show us the beauty that you find in the Tualatin Valley via our Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest. The contest is really quite simple. Here’s the deal with it in a nutshell: When you visit a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County from February 2 to March 20, tag your Instagram photos with the location, @oregonswashingtoncounty and the #mytualatinvalley hashtag to enter for a chance to win major swag from the Tualatin Valley (think wine, hazelnuts and other tasty treats galore!).

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @oregonswashingtoncounty on Instagram
  • Upload an Instagram  picture of a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County (location must be searchable on the www.tualatinvalley.org website)
  • Please note: if your Instagram profile is set to private, you can either
    • send your image to @oregonswashingtoncounty via Instagram Direct or
    • share the link to your Instagram image with Visit Oregon’s Washington County on Twitter (@WCVA) which will allow our organization to have access to only that image on your profile
    • if you do not do either of these, your photo will not be visible to the Washington County Visitors Association and you will not be officially entered in the contest
  • Tag @oregonswashingtoncounty in your photo on Instagram
  • Use the hashtag #mytualatinvalley in your photo on Instagram
  • Name the location in your photo on Instagram in the location field, additional hashtag or Instagram caption
  • You must be 21 or older to enter
  • Abide by the full Terms & Conditions

Alright—now it’s time to begin planning your next Instagram snaps. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Hotels
Show us how you make a hotel your home away from home. Give us a peek at your delicious room service, a cozy rest by the fire or a morning yoga session in your hotel room. To start, book your room now!

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

 

Outdoor Attraction
Use the Nature Passport to uncover the best winter wildlife watching throughout the 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges and forests in Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley. 

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

 

Vineyard
The wineries of the northern Willamette Valley have a special wintertime charm. Make a romantic (and photo-worthy) sweep of them during the Valentine’s Wine Loop.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

 

Brewery
Beervana awaits in the Tualatin Valley. With a growing list of stellar breweries, create sudsy Instagram shots. The Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour is the perfect way to get behind-the-scene brewing pictures. 

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

At its heart, the Winter Wonder Instagram Contest is about having fun. So get out there, have a great time and share what conveys #mytualatinvalley, whatever that means for you.

Read the full Terms and Conditions here.

Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

 

1st Place:  Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by The Shutterbug), plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:  Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $555)
3rd Place:  $100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:  onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!

Fall Traditions in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: October 24th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

traditions collageWhat’s your favorite tradition? Whether it’s a big annual fair or as simple as a yearly cookie-making party, everyone has traditions within their families and hometowns that they can count on year after year. While taking a trip might feel like a departure from tradition, a visit to the Tualatin Valley is a great time to fold yourself into the traditions of our own friendly community. As the seasons change, our traditions stay as steadfast as ever. So, come join us for some upcoming traditions where locals love seeing new faces.

Ween yourself off of Halloween’s sugar high with the 80th Annual Verboort Sausage Festival (November 1 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; 4285 NW Visitation Road, Forest Grove; $8-$16). The community of Verboort is filled with families that have been in the area for as long as 150 years; so they’ve had time to really hone their recipe for the homemade sausage, sauerkraut and applesauce that they began sharing at the yearly dinner in 1934. This tradition is a popular one as the Verboort Sausage Festival accommodates 8,000 diners in a single day. Doing the math, that accounts for about 15 tons of sausage!

You know how some families decorate their home for the holidays the day after Thanksgiving? Well, Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood doesn’t buy that logic. They happily jump the gun with the Annual Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center; free). Stroll through designer-decorated Christmas trees while listening to live music. The best part? Enter the warm greenhouses to pick out your favorite, freshly-grown poinsettia.

Turkey may rein king as the tradition for Thanksgiving, but the weekend that follows it can be owned by Oregon wine. Whether visiting family in the greater Portland area or hosting out-of-towners, have a blast during the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-30; various locations; varying tasting fees). Meet winemakers, enjoy barrel samples and get a sneak peek at upcoming releases. If that’s not a good tradition then we don’t know what is. Though, the wine-averse (gasp!) can instead partake in yet another tradition with Holiday Wreath Making (November 28-30 at 11:30 a.m. daily; Tillamook Forest Center; $12).

Cheers to traditions, both new and old!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Focus on Autumn with Fall Harvest

Posted on: October 15th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

To focus on autumn means to focus on Oregon’s bounty. Focus on the gentle breeze whistling between the Tualatin Valley’s apple trees. Focus on the bright flavor of a just-picked pear. Focus on the gleeful expression of a child finding that perfect pumpkin in the patch. Focus on the sun setting in the hazelnut orchard. And don’t just focus on these precious moments—take a picture of it for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

 

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

A filbert farm sunset along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Photo by Karl Samson.

The Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest is our way of celebrating all the ways people experience autumn in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to capturing beautiful moments, photographers are also encouraged to enter their photos for a chance at the prize package that is worth $2,500! With a first, second and third place prize (as well as an honorable mention), you could win premium and professional photography gear like a Canon EOS 70D DSLR camera and amazing editing software.

So, hang your camera strap around your neck and be ready to snap the magical moments you catch at our farms and markets, as well as on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. In case you want a creative sparkplug, we’ve included a few photography ideas below:

From Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, pumpkins are a big deal in the Tualatin Valley. Our pumpkin patches are a photographer’s dream with punchy-orange gourds resting below the mountain-scape views and barrels of hay.

The ever-photogenic poinsettias will be waiting to be photographed at the Evening of Lights (November 6 from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Al’s Garden Center in Sherwood; free). Here, stroll through designer-decorated holiday trees and freshly grown poinsettias as one way to usher in the upcoming holidays.

Photo contest procrastinators can rally at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend (November 28-November 30; varying times, locations and tasting fees). Tour some of Oregon’s best wineries for stellar wines, as well as beautiful photo-ops. Just don’t forget to submit your photos by November 30.

 

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

A winery along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route in fall. Photo by Wayne Flynn.

Find even more Tualatin Valley photography examples and inspiration!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.